Photo: ‘Life and Liberty‘ – Color Photograph of American Flag and Flowers – Copyright 2020 Frank J Casella

I was drawn to this moment of an American Flag mounted on a tree with blooming flowers below it, in the country morning sunlight, because it reminds me of how this Flag is a symbol of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. The phrase gives three examples of the “unalienable rights” which the Declaration says have been given to all human beings by their Creator, and which governments are created to protect. Without it we have chaos.

The American flag is a symbol of our nation and our people. It is a reminder to us that we are all united under one banner, and that we are all fighting for the same cause. It is a sign of our strength and our resilience, and it is a symbol of our commitment to our values and our way of life.

The American flag is a symbol that means that we serve everybody equally without discrimination, but we do not show favoritism. Many American flags are displayed in my Midwest community, as it represents the strong support there is for the country among average people. Seeing these flags reminds me that there are still people in America who are willing to fight for our freedoms and the American way of life – even when it seems like the situation is not looking good. This proud sight will make everyone who sees it feel proud and patriotic.

Our woke overlords want us to think that America is a nation that needs to be destroyed in order to atone for the injustices that it has committed in the past. The “progressive” ideology is rooted in victim-hood and requires that America be dismantled in order to rebuild it in their own image. America was founded on the principle of individual liberty and self-reliance, so it’s no surprise that they don’t understand or appreciate this. Why do you have to have the Pride flag shown on government property to be represented? You’re already represented. We already know who you are.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, allegiance is “the faithful observance of an obligation, especially a sworn declaration or pledge of allegiance.” In this context, the American flag is an object of allegiance. Contrary to what some people might think, the flag does not restrict freedom of speech. In fact, it is one of the few things that can unite people from all walks of life under one banner. To show allegiance to the American flag is not a political statement, but a demonstration of patriotism.

The national flag of the United States of America (or the American flag) consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton (referred to specifically as the ‘union’) bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars.

The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states and the 13 stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that rebelled against the British monarchy and became the first states in the Union.

Nicknames for the flag include the ‘Stars and Stripes’, ‘Old Glory’ and ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’

Thus the American Flag unites American’s as One Nation under God with Liberty and Justice for All.

Social Media Sales Truths

Photo: ‘Morning Lit Magnolia‘ – Copyright 2015 Frank J Casella

I’ve noticed recently as I go to and from my days between meetings and conferences, and kids sporting events, that most everyone keeps tabs with their smartphone. As I walk by and glance at what’s so important, I can say most of the time it’s Facebook …. still.

Though I have personally dumped my FB account since 2016, it seems that I’m in the minority. I also don’t have a smartphone, rather a flip phone … still.

When I am out on the street I make a concentrated effort to be with people, and not be distracted … especially while driving the car. I do use social media however on the computer, as an artist, and be very intentional with it.

Many of you who have followed my writing know how much I’m inspired by the Zig Ziglar Corporation. I have pulled together bits and pieces of what they teach about the timeless truths in a Social Media sales world. I practice them, and have come to believe in these:

1) Don’t hide behind Social Media – don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.
2) Write your own blog – example your expertise, integrity, and reputation.
3) = Critical = When posting always include knowledge and information that is valuable to the reader – even if they never contact you. They may refer you.
4) Selling is a transfer of feeling – amplification is key!

That last point, by amplification I don’t mean to say that you post your content everywhere you can. Rather you post content that is valuable enough that others share it and amplify your work and your Brand.

There is nothing more important than (what is known as) a third-party endorsement. In other words, it’s not who you know, but who knows you … and then, who THEY know. Get it!

I also believe that email is the original Socal Media, as your mails can be shared just as easy as any of the others. And now a close second is Masodon, which works very similar to email.

Thank you for reading. Enjoy your day!

Springtime Blossom

Photo: ‘Springtime Blossom‘ – Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella.

Many times the key factor of a great photograph comes from it having strong composition. Yes, the story is important but, without strong composition the story gets lost I think.

The inspiration for this photograph came to me when I was out for a walk with my wife and dog, and saw this out from the corner of my eye. The story here is that I love how this moment says new life that brings hope. The colors are catchy and a favorite of many.

I used negative space composition, which is a basic, but often overlooked principle of design, that gives the eye a “place to rest,” increasing the appeal through subtle means. This together with the square format, makes this suitable for framing with a wider matboard.

Likewise, in life, what are the things that get lost because of things you overlook from being too busy and not taking time to rest and think it through?

Delete the App, Use the Browser

Photo: ‘Purple Flowers by the Trail‘ – Color Photograph Copyright 2020 Frank J Casella.

My Love And Hate With Social Media.

If, like me, you don’t want to give up social media, because it’s not going away, but you do need a way to seriously cut back, the best way I have found is go off the usual path by deleting the apps and using a browser to access your accounts instead.

Many people don’t think of the browser as its own app or operating system, however, when you use a browser like Vivaldi it also blocks ads and trackers unlike using the apps.

Both the mobile and desktop browser versions are similar to using the social media apps, but with many of the same reduced features distractions. And if you are on Instagram (which I am no longer), then look at this feature of the Vivaldi browser.

You see, I learned from Cal Newport this solution that works extremely well at curbing my social media usage, the pared down version gave me a noticeably better experience. Less distractions, no noise, and better protects you from tracking and data mining.

One thing I do as an artist to keep it manageable, is follow no more than a dozen other artists whos work inspires me. Then a couple times a week I login to check out what they are doing, while I post my latest works. And doing it this way you don’t have to worry about the data mining as much, though it is still a good idea to use a privacy centered browser and platforms.

One final thought is to download the Vivaldi browser for desktop becuse it has a great side panel that makes social media like platforms shine. And their mobile browser works very smooth with platforms like Mastaton and MeWe.

The Thing About Email Domains

Photo: ‘Friends Walking the Wetlands Trail’ – Color Photo Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella

Just thinking, I have to say that email service domain names are a bad online ID that we use for most everything. We all have an email address, or usually need one for subscribing to social media and the like, even though an email address was never meant to be secure (but that is for another blog post). Many of us got our first email address from our phone company or Internet Service Provider (ISP), but they all have awful domain names that benefit the brand more than those of us using them. And the free and paid services have mostly done the same. The two exceptions I know of are and, they have both a good brand name that says what they do and benefits the user, plus they offer dozens of other domain names to choose that say what we do. On the other hand, protonmail had a good name until it went to just ‘proton’, and (I have to mention because it hosts this blog) is a memorable name, though I think should do the opposite and change to (or or, it has a better ‘ring’ to it and personally makes me smile. As humans we often take the path of least resistance, and this is why I think there is no real demand for better email service domain names. As long as the service works and meets our needs, we don’t care if it benefits the brand we are using, never mind the best way for them to be in business is to serve the customer.

The Journey of Life

Photo: ‘The Journey of Life‘ – Holga Black and White Landscape Photograph Copyright 2021 Frank J Casella.

A pathway was created during the hard winter with deep snow, around the flower bed to the back of the yard.

Now that the snow is almost melted, before you know it the pathway will be gone.

Such as in the journey of life …

We hopefully find a pathway to success, only at the end of life to leave the memories of the experiences we’ve had with others and the environment.

Dog At Peace

Photo: ‘Dog At Peace‘ – Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella

After a swim in the lake he sleeps in peace.

Have you noticed how dog’s have a way of bringing peace to the stress of a family or household?

They are filled with unconditional love, when we look for it … and learn from it.

Which often makes me ask the question then, and now I ask you, how does your life bring peace to others … and to the world?

Enjoy your day.

What’s In Your Heart

Photo: ‘What’s In Your Heart’ – Winter scene, morning sunlit trees, with snowy branches – Color Photo Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella.

Whats in your heart.

We all make decisions every day.

When we say ‘yes’ to one thing, then it is at the cost of many ‘no’s’.

We all have a hole in our hearts that need to be filled. What we fill into that void determines our world view.

Said another way, what goes into your mind is what’s in your heart. If you want to change your life, change what goes into your mind.

For example, focus on serving others, and less on self.

For those of us who believe, when we open our mind and say ‘yes’ to God, and let Him dwell in our hearts, then what we say ‘no’ to is a sacrifice that makes life worth living.

We no longer feel that void, because our hearts are overfilled with a true joy and love that radiates to others, and makes the world a better place to live.

Enjoy your day.

The Blogging Newsletters Problem

Photo: ‘Making memories in the neighborhood‘ – Chalk on the sidewalk photo Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella – It’s good to see in this day and age how kids in a neighborhood bond, and without the use of digital technology.

With blogging and newsletters, there’s a new problem – email service providers and email clients can’t keep up with privacy measures and deliver on the marketing promises in their ads.

Readers are missing important email content and it seems to be getting worse.

In an industry that is constantly moving forward, the future of publishing seems to be about meeting the reader/viewer/listener where they want to be. But I say speak from where you are, and make your content attract them.

These days, that means embracing the antique nature of RSS.

RSS is an old technology that many people still use, and it’s perfect for publishing because it allows you to send updates to your readers with a true “open” network.

Golden Hour on the Fence

Photo: ‘Golden Hour on the Fence‘ – Copyright 2015 Frank J Casella

The golden hour winter sun sets on a picket fence, and snowy tree branches, creating a moment of visual respite for end of the day worries and concerns.

When you’re so tired in today’s world, of balancing technology with human interactions, or worries and time management, it’s good to view moments like these as a sign of hope.

To enjoy a moment God’s love, and invitation to distinguish the genuinely important from the seemingly urgent.

What worries you, masters you, until you hand it over to the Master – A new focus, with new priorities, makes a big difference.

Autumn Colors Stormy Skies Prairie Trail

Photo: ‘Autumn Colors Stormy Skies Along The Prairie Trail – Heat Effect’ – Copyright 2022 Frank J Casella.

I like the warm colors of the prairie here under the stormy sky. Much like the path in life that we take, it can be quite colorful yet we know there can be storms all around us. Enjoy the beauty of the moment ….

Chicago Water Tower Christmas

Photo: ‘City of Chicago Water Tower Christmas‘ – Copyright 2017 Frank J Casella. Christmas Joy at Water Tower Park in the City of Chicago.

I’ve titled this photograph – ‘ City of Chicago Old Water Tower Christmas‘ – because looking at this scene tells me about living with strength and faith.

Strength because the tower, built in 1869, gained prominence after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In the years since the fire, the tower has become a symbol of old Chicago and of the city’s recovery from the fire.

Faith because of many Christians who are missing out on many of the religious Christmas symbols that permeate our society this time of year.

People become caught up in the commercial aspect of Christmas, while forgetting what Christians are actually celebrating.

The most common symbols of Christmas, the Christmas Tree is an evergreen. It stands in stark contrast to the dead, brown, leafless trees of winter. It is ever green and ever alive, reminding us that we are created for everlasting life. The tree is often topped with a star or angel, reminding us of the Star of David and the angels that announced the birth of the Lord Jesus.

When I see these two symbols together in the public square, I’m overcome with joy and reminded of the scriptures.

“Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.””

Matthew 11: 28-30

Behold, the Lord comes to save his people;
blessed are those prepared to meet him.

Last Peek of Winter Sun

The golden hour winter sun illuminates with color the snow-covered tree branches. How much do we, or can we, reflect the Light that is illuminating our own lives? Photo: ‘Last Peek of Winter Sun‘ – Copyright 2015 Frank J Casella All Rights Reserved.

Threshold – Monochrome

Sweet, silvery black and white of a tulip on sunlight. Photo: ‘Threshold – Monochrome‘ Copyright 2008 Frank J Casella.

Here we have a tulip flower that is opening up with the dawn of the morning light.

Faith and hope are just that … believing in the things not seen, and acting as if it’s going to be.

Much of our experiences and struggles can leave us with a scar, as like an injury on our hand so to speak.

Yet the thing about scars is that even though they may not go away, they do heal. As time goes on, and the scar keeps healing, sooner or later it can become not as noticeable … or be a reminder of perseverance.

Sometimes scars can be from relationships, our lives can be shattered, like a vase that falls off the table and breaks into many small pieces.

The good news is, that with time and healing in putting the vase back together, piece after piece, it may not look the same but can become instead a beautiful mosaic.

This is where threshold comes in. Each experience we have comes with it the doorway to a new day, a new era, a way to look at the past more intelligently for the future.

… A life filled with hope.

Chicago Blizzard – Holga

A person walks down the street during a blizzard with low visibility in a Chicagoland neighborhood. Kind of like the journey of life, unless we seek God’s will to depend on Him to show us the way. Photo: ‘Chicago Blizzard’ – Holga Effect – Black and White Documentary Photograph – Copyright 2012 Frank J Casella All Rights Reserved.

Being Committed

Photo: ‘Autumn Wetlands‘ Copyright 2019 Frank J Casella.

The key to vision is being committed to it. But many do you find have a hard time with this?

The path to a full life, and reaching your goals, is to be committed to it. There is no vision without being committed to it. We might find road blocks in the way, or things that change our direction a bit, and without being committed to it we just give up before we reach our goal.

Henry Ford comes to mind, how he said something like “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently” as well as “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do” and “Vision without execution is just hallucination.”

One of the most difficult forms of being committed for me is with online platforms, as technology changes very fast. Even if you have your own website or blog, the host can change the business plan and you have to move with the changes, or change the host.

There is also being committed to a relationship, as in marriage, as over the years spouses change and you have to learn to move with it in love. The key to a long marriage is to stay married, forgiveness, and then give each other space.

I thought about this topic for today because there are a number of projects I’m working on in life, and with my pictures. And as we prepare to close out 2022 I’m reflecting on what I learned from them in the past 11 months, and how I want to approach them for the next year.

“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.”

— Zig Ziglar

Shadows and Trees Landscape

Photo: ‘Shadow and Trees Landscape‘ – Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella

God makes trees as individual as He does people. No two trees are the same.

Look up close at their details.

The shadows created by the Light, are like the beauty that we leave on the world through Him.

This to me is the landscape of humanity.

Golden Hour Reflections

Photo Chicago Skyscrapers Golden Hour Reflections
Photo: ‘Golden Hour Reflections‘ – Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella

When I look at this scene, I reflect about all the people behind those windows, and all the people who built these buildings over the years.

Yes, it all looks perfect on the outside, but it’s what’s inside that counts and makes all the difference. Like when I create a picture, I’m critical but mindful that perfection can lead to procrastination.

How about you?

What really is important, I think, is to be mindful and reflect that what we create will still be around after we are dead and gone. So, remember that what goes on inside of us is the here and now, and this we must keep in perspective.

Enjoy your day.

Morning Sunlight Architecture

Photo: ‘Morning Sunlight Architecture City of Chicago‘ – Copyright 2017 Frank J Casella

All of us are different, yet together.

What struck me about this view of Chicago architecture was the Illumination from the morning sunlight. Then what came into view is how these structures are from decades apart of each other.

Though each of these are different, they blend together with such beauty, especially when enveloped by the sun and shadows.

Much as in life, and in living our faith, all of us are different, yet together we can do great things that create beauty in this world… such as these buildings… especially when enveloped in faith in this love of the Lord Jesus.

In a similar way, as beauty from the morning light brings promise to prepare for the coming of the new day ahead, so too must we live our faith looking for signs in preparation for the beauty of the coming of the Lord.

Enjoy your day.